I didn't wait to start looking at dogs again. As a matter of fact, I went to the local shelter in Wisconsin just in case the perfect dog happened to live there. And I scanned our local shelter each day to make sure no perfect dogs slipped through my fingers. On the day before I was to return home, one popped up on the shelter website. I sent Gregg the link along with the message that maybe we could stop at the shelter on the way home from the airport and take a look. But by the time I had deplaned, all I wanted to do was go home. So we skipped the shelter and by the end of the day the dog had been adopted.
I had been looking for a dog at the county shelter for months but any suitable dogs were adopted quite quickly. The same 10 dogs had been there all summer long; the 10 were pitbulls, elderly dogs, a "nippy" dog, a couple that were dog (and cat) aggressive, and one "escape artist." So I decided to expand my search. I looked at dogs in other counties, the more rural ones that were about an hour's drive away.
Almost immediately I found a dog that spoke to me. He was a stray that had been quite emaciated when found, was timid, and afraid of cats. He was at an SPCA but there was no online application. I called them and was informed that they required adopters to come to their location to fill out the application and then they had to wait 48 hours while the application was processed. I asked if they had any restrictions on crates and dog doors but they assured me that they did not. I decided to give it a shot.
I drove the hour or so to the site and asked to see the inappropriately named "Valor". (I'd call him Val I decided in my head). The employee brought me to his cage and tried to coax him out. Poor Val was terrified. He cringed past the cages and outside to the run. The handler turned him loose. Val ran back and forth across the field, giddy with freedom. He stayed well out of our way, and finally stopped for a snack at a lush patch of grass on the opposite side of the chain link fence. He bent his neck to try to grab a bite but the grass was just out of reach. Val craned his neck farther and farther. Soon he was standing on his head quite determined to get some grass. I was entranced by his goofiness. I asked where to get an application and went to fill it out. The handler stayed behind trying to catch a hound that was joyfully zooming around her. I grinned.
There were no other applicants for Val when I submitted my application and I was told that there had been only one in the three weeks that he was there. That one had been rejected. I felt somewhat confident that he would be ours.
Forty-eight hours later, I called the shelter. Val had been adopted already. I was stunned. I asked why my application had been rejected. The woman who answered the phone didn't know, she transferred me to another person who could give me an answer. I asked again why my application had been rejected. I needed to know in case it was a booby trap that I hadn't thought about. It wasn't that my application had been rejected, it was because someone had come in to adopt a dog and had brought their own dog along with them. Their dog and Val had gotten along so well that the SPCA had given Val to them. No 48 hour waiting period required. They thought that the people were a "better fit" for Val. I asked how she could possibly know if they were a better fit. No one had talked to me or asked me any questions. How could they possibly know? Why was I rejected? She had no answer. I asked if I could adopt one of their other dogs, an elderly one with a large open wound on his leg.
"Of course you can!" the woman replied happily.
"So, I'm not good enough for the dog that I want," I replied. "But I'm good enough for the one you want me to have." She was incoherently trying to respond when I hung up on her.
I cried the rest of the day (I cry every time I think about it). Since I now needed to own a dog in order to adopt a dog, my chances of adopting seemed even more remote than before.